By Marilyn Bailey
It’s astonishing to look back on the past 10 years and take stock of how much the cultural landscape has changed — and we mean “landscape” quite literally. Just think of how far we’ve come in a decade.
Science, art and cowboys get new digs
During our first decade, the already destination-rich Cultural District in Fort Worth got two stunning new buildings and even more “starchitects” to brag about. (We already had Louis Kahn, Tadao Ando and Philip Johnson. Whew.) In October 2009, we explored the backstory of the colorful, joyous Legorreta + Legorreta design for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Virtually casting a shadow on the museum is the in-the-homestretch Dickies Arena. With its roof in place and 98,040 square feet of climate-controlled exhibit space (with 14,000 seats in the main arena), it is counting down to opening day in November 2019. And, on the far side of the museum, restoration work on the Will Rogers Memorial Center tower finally is underway. Our November 2013 issue highlighted the new Renzo Piano Pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum, a landmark project that achieved the once unthinkable — an expansion that greatly increased the exhibition space without stepping on Kahn’s sublime original building.
Fort Worth Zoo
Ramona Bass and the MOLA exhibit
Beauty of another kind is celebrated at institutions devoted to wonders of the natural world. We won a rare interview with Ramona Bass, a great patron of the Fort Worth Zoo, who showed us around the new reptile exhibit known as MOLA, the Museum of Living Art, as it opened in all its slithery glory. We loved how she calmly held a 40-pound python and then an alligator for the photographer. But there’s always something new at the zoo. Last year, we covered the first stage the Wilder Vision re-imagining of its exhibits: The 10-acre African Savanna opened with an integrated habitat designed to nurture giraffes, hippos, zebras, springboks and more, and to give visitors a richer, more meaningful experience.
Botanical Research Institute of Texas
Just down the street, in 2011 we toured the new campus of BRIT, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, and marveled at its innovative, eco-friendly features like the living roof, rainwater collection system and parking lot broken up with garden spaces.
AT&T Stadium, Perot Museum of Nature and Science
We do stray east of the Fort Worth city limits at times. The 2010 opening of Arlington’s AT&T Stadium (called Cowboys Stadium at first) captured our attention, not least for its astonishing contemporary art collection. The 2012 debut of Dallas’ Perot Museum of Nature and Science — just approaching the whimsical boxy building in Victory Park makes you smile — gave us all a new family destination, as well as a steady stream of nerdy blockbusters devoted to everything from dinosaurs to Legos.